Corvallis Community Members and Students Hold Vigil for Palestine
April 17, 2002
CORVALLIS, Oregon - In response to the escalating violence in Palestine and Israel, a diverse group of community members and university students held a vigil and speakout on Wednesday, April 17, in the central quad of Oregon State University. Organizers and participants called for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by Israeli forces.
Over seventy people participated in the two-hour event, which brought together campus and community activists and members of Corvallis' Muslim, Christian, and Arab communities. Crowded in and around a tent under sporadic downpours, participants clutched candles and intently listened as many took turns speaking.
OSU professors Roger Weaver and Karim Hamdy opened the evening. Weaver read poetry, asking pointedly, "How does one speak of genocide in polite discourse?" Hamdy framed the speakout as an opportunity for "unheard voices," a predominant theme throughout the evening and also the name of the sponsoring student organization.
Other participants called for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel and urged the crowd "to remember who is dying in Palestine." One man, a U.S. military veteran and a Palestinian American, stressed that "we need to distinguish" between Jewish people and the government of Israel.
A small group staunchly defended Israel and offered intermittent comments. One woman among them held a sign with the words "End Arab Hatred of Jews."
The evening closed with a young man who identified himself as Israeli. Characterizing the current Israeli violence in the Occupied Territories as "war crimes," he called for two states in the region and emphasized our common humanity. "We are all flesh and blood," he said.
Commenting afterward, Kelsey Miller, an organizer of the vigil and an OSU student, explained, "We wanted to provide a forum and a space that was safe for people to speak out who are often unheard or ignored." That was indeed a striking feature of the event.
According to Miller, another aim was to "let people in the Corvallis community know that there is public support for Palestinians."
Clearly there is.
- reported by Chris Dixon for Portland Indymedia